Sunday, October 7, 2012

Gerson and Me

Michael Gerson wrote this opinion piece regarding Won't Back Down, not only drinking the kool aid, but suggesting it wasn't nearly strong enough considering the deplorable state of schools. I might use some awful language at the poker table occasionally, but I won't here. Just know I'm %!$$3& off.

Here is a link to his piece:

Here is my response:

Mr. Gerson,

I don't think union officials find the movie "Won't Back Down" "offensive", and throwing around Ms. Weingarten's name with her honest and accurate assessment of this movie does not adequately support your attack on the teaching profession, your opinion of teacher unions, or those that serve despite the burdens ignored in the "reform" debate. Your "Still leaving our kids behind" reveals itself early for what it is when you attempt to compare the movie to Sinclair's "The Jungle". An attempt to lend weight to weak opinions.
I cannot speak for teacher unions as a whole, but I can speak as a teacher and a union member. The fact that the wealthiest players, and the loudest and inexplicably most revered voices in the reform debate include folks who spent as little (or no) time as they possibly could in the classroom, and/or have a career spotted with questionable ethics goes unmentioned in ideological or bought and paid for opinion pieces.
And somehow, even though Won't Back Down (just like Waiting for Superman) is exactly that sort of misguided propaganda, paid for by people who stand to profit greatly from the damage they hope it will cause, that goes unsaid.
You did get one thing correct, though your additional steps and mine likely don't match. There is a lack of urgency. More than a movie is needed. Public education needs to be wrestled away from the counter-intuitive testing/publishing and data mining industries growing fat off of the misguided education policy they have somehow managed to push upon us. The power to guide learners needs to be returned to the skilled educators who have dedicated their lives and their gifts to that endeavor, and the opinions of temp teachers ushered quickly into high-paying superstar status need more examination-less automatic respect. Funding needs to be returned to schools, not withheld pending acquiescence with time-consuming and counter-productive mandates. The large-scale "job creators and investors" who have abandoned the United States need to bring stable employment back to our communities to build local economies and create the supportive home environments that in turn support student success. In order to compare more favorable to education leaders in the world like Finland, we should adopt similar policies. There is much more we could do, and the research exists to support those efforts, but instead we continue to test, test, test...and expand reactive measures instead of those that are proactive. Why is THAT not examined?
I am a teacher, Mr. Gerson, with more than ten years in, three children of my own, making less than median income, and with no plans of leaving for legislative councils, lobbying, speaking tours (making more for one show than I now make in a year) or movie-making. Like most, I give most of my time out of the classroom (summers included) to preparing for the classroom. I give my spare time, money, food and whatever pieces of my heart I can to kids when I see a need. I am eternally grateful for involved, caring parents. I'm not special or unlike most teachers I know. I cannot abide your disrespect of me, my colleagues or those protecting us, or your fervent support of those who would attack us with caricatures in a movie.

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